From the Official "Pan-American Art Hand-Book", 1901
In considering a scheme of color treatment for the Pan-American Exposition, the Architecture, Sculpture, the purpose and character of the Exposition each had to be taken into account. The plan of Mr. Karl Bitter, Director of Sculpture, set forth in his article in another part of this book, seemed to me a very logical and proper treatment of the Exposition, and it seemed wise for me to pursue a similar course in the color treatment, so that I might, in this way, carry out the general scheme which was indicated in the plan of the grounds, buildings, and sculptural arrangements. Taking it for granted, then, that as we enter the grounds from the Park through the forecourt, the causeway bids welcome to the visitors and the I, countries taking part in the Exposition, we would come upon the elementary conditions, that is, the earliest state of man suggested on one side, and primitive nature on the other. I concluded that the strongest primary colors should be applied here, and that as we advance up the grounds the colors should be more refined and less contrasting, and that the Tower, which is to suggest the triumph of man's achievement, should be the lightest and most delicate in color.
It seemed to me very wise and necessary to supplement Mr. Bitters idea and try to carry out in color the same thought. I therefore began at the entrance to the grounds with primitive or primary colors, and as I advanced up the Court and into the Exposition, the colors became more refined and grayer, reaching a climax at the Tower, which was to be the lightest and brightest in color.
Since I wished in some way to emphasize the great power which was being used to run the Exposition, the beautiful emerald-green hue of the water as it curls over the crest of Niagara Falls seemed to be a most fitting note to carry through the Exposition, and I therefore adopted it and have endeavored to carry this color on some portion of every building.
In the Tower I have given it marked emphasis and have made the general scheme here ivory-white, green, and gold.
This, then, is my general plan or scheme, and my wish has been to do all that was possible for me to do to express this idea and be in harmony with what I believed the Architects and Sculptors wished to say through their respective arts.
A model of the various buildings made to scale was executed and erected in my studio, which covered a space of t z feet by 16 feet. This model was made on a scale of one-sixteenth of an inch to the foot, and all the buildings were then colored and changed as was deemed necessary until a harmonious result was arrived at.
The small model which I had built as colored could give only the tints of the body of the buildings and the roofs with some slight suggestion of towers and pinnacles. It was necessary, therefore, to be more explicit, and the drawings of each building were then taken up and colored in detail. First the elevations of the buildings, and then the great doorways, towers, corner pavilions, entrances, finials, and all parts which might be treated.
From various conversations which I had had with the Architects, Painters, and others who were interested in the Pan-American Exposition, I had gained the impression that the style of Architecture was Spanish-American and that it was the desire of the Board of Architects as well as of the Exposition Company that the buildings should be treated with bright, brilliant colors, and that a suggestion of Spanish treatment of Architecture in coloring should be given. I therefore various studies this matter in the various works at my disposal and tried to famliarize myself with the manner of their treatment, and as far as possible produce a result which should resemble, as near as might be, work of that period.
The Horticultural group has orange as a basis for the color of the body of the building. On the Government Building a warm yellow is used for the plain surfaces. For the Music Hall, I have used red, quite pure, as the foundation color. On the Ethnology Building, golden orange. On the Machinery and Transportation Building green as the basis. Opposite it, across the Court, the Liberal Arts Building is a warm gray color. The Electricity and Agricultural Buildings are different shades of light yellow, while the Restaurant and entrances to the Stadium have a French gray as the basis, with a lighter shade of the same tint on the Propylxa. For the Electric Tower I reserved a light ivory. The buildings of the Sunken Gardens are of a darker shade of ivory. In the Horticultural group I have used blue and white largely in the ornamental portions of the panels, pilasters, spandrils, etc., relieved now and again by brighter shades of rose and deep yellow. The Government Buildings have a mild gray for the structural portions to relieve the yellow, and in this building, where it is possible, the green note is introduced in the sashes and doors ; blue on the dome, and gold on the smaller domes. Blue-green is on the dome of the Temple of Music, and is repeated again on the Ethnology Building. On the Machinery and Transportation Building red, yellow, and green are introduced in the great doorways, and corner pavilions, and also are distributed through the towers, while blue and gold play a large part in the detail work of Liberal Arts Building, especially on the ceilings of the colonnades and east and west entrances, and in the great pediments of the north and south entrances. The yellow of the Electricity Building is relieved by gray trimmings and green doorways which are elaborately enriched in their ornament by delicate shades of the prevailing tones used throughout the Exposition. The Agricultural Building is warmer, and there are blue, yellow, and ivory, and stronger notes of red and green in the entrances. The Restaurants are ivory and French gray. The sashes and doors are painted green, and the minarets and pinnacles are tipped with gold. The Propylxan which curves across the north end of the grounds has a wide open arcade, the panels of which are enriched with brilliant red where white statues are placed, while the panels above are a bright yellow. The ceilings are blue, and the trellis above is made a strong violet hue. Violet occurs again at the entrances from the Railway Station through the great Arch. The Railway Transportation Building is in a French gray with green roof and ivory and gold trimmings, while the Stadium, one of the most imposing buildings of the Exposition, will be a light ivory-gray, with pale blue-green sashes and doors. The Tower, as I have said before, is a very light ivory, and is enriched in the capitols, brackets, finials, stars, pinnacles, etc., with gold and is crowned with a gilded figure of the Goddess of Light. The panels have the brightest fresh blue-green we could make, and is intended to suggest the water as it curves over the crest at Niagara. The statuary throughout the grounds will be treated in white, and it is my belief it will be a pleasant contrast and make the color more apparent. Lamps and urns are treated as green bronze, verte antique. Flag-staffs are treated in a similar manner, except the greater ones, which are made to harmonize with the buildings in their immediate neighborhood, cool at the north end of the grounds in ivory and green, and warmer in red, yellow, and blue at the south. The great piers at the causeway are a soft, warm gray, suggesting limestone or some kindred material. Pergolas I are treated in bright colors, the lower i third of the columns being orange or red, and the upper two-thirds a light stone color with brown beams, blue ceiling, and green roofs. The notes of green, gold, ivory, blue, and red are distributed throughout all the buildings; so that it can be said, as someone remarked to me, " I see you are using the Pan-American Colors on the buildings, red, white, blue, green, and yellow." The buildings in the Midway are treated with more liberty, but in the same general tone of color as the main portion of the Exposition. The State Buildings and other concessions about the grounds have considerable latitude in treatment. The Woman's Building, which is a remodelled country club-house, has been treated in soft, quiet green. It is a frame building and is among the foliage. All the canal banks, bridges, and embankments have a soft gray stone color, with little or no enrichment other than the architectural design. Many flags and banners are to be distributed on the buildings of various colors suggestive of the countries taking part in the Exposition and adding gayety and liveliness to the scene. Awnings over the landings and peplos are treated to harmonize with the adjoining buildings.
This is the first time to my knowledge that a general scheme of color has been undertaken and carried out in any exposition, and it is our sincere hope and belief that the result will warrant the time, labor, and expense expended upon it, and give great pleasure and possibly influence the art of our country in the future.
The interior decorations, which are being carried on under the direction
of Miss A. J. Thorpe, Assistant Director of Interior Decoration, will conform
in general plan to the exterior coloring of the buildings, and relate as
far as possible to the exhibits contained therein.
Back to Documents and Stories
Back to "Doing the Pan" Home